Casual

Where:
The Ribcage (FB Page)
Shop J, G/F May Sun Building, 1 Smithfield
Kennedy Town. Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 3956 4213

Price:
We got out at around HKD200 a head.

The deal:
The Ribcage has been open since March 2016 and I’d heard the standard PR story about how the owner was disappointed by the ribs in HK and decided that he was gonna show HK how to do shit right.  With such a bold claim and a few people telling me that The Ribcage had good ribs, I decided to check out whether a) most people continue to be tasteless morons and b) whether The Ribcage was truly slaying the HK rib game.  It’s a relatively spartan shop front, with high benches and only one high table in the middle, which makes dining largely awkward if you come in a group any larger than two homies and if you lack any core strength to support your sad sack of shit body on a backless stool.  The super straight forward menu is written on blackboards on the wall, listing only five food items – three types of ribs all slow smoked with hickory and apple wood – USA pork baby back ribs (half/full), Canadian AAA beef (full only) and lamb (full only) ribs and two sides, beef fat skinny fries and coleslaw.  I guess if I wanted to spin that shit, F&B PR style, I’d bill it as a carefully curated selection of items which The Ribcage promise to deliver on, but as I’m just an asshole dickhead blogger, I’m just gonna call it a fucking tiny selection.

Ms Two Serves had warned me that the only liquor The Ribcage serves is beer and they don’t have any ice available for soft drinks.  This was in fact over promising the booze situation because despite the empty beer bottles on top of the counter, we confirm with the staff that they don’t have the right licence at the moment, which means they are dry as a bone.  WHYYYYYY HK RESTAURANTS, Y U never let me have easy access to alcohol with my meals anymore?! GODDAMNIT, MY EVERYDAY LIFE JUST MAKES ME SO THIRSTY.

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Ignoring my shaking hands, I settle for a coke and just as Ms Two Serves stated, there was no ice available either.  Fuck, I rarely drink soft drinks without hard liquor and at the very least, I want that sugary shit frosty cold.  With my iceless coke in hand and given that there’s only five food items on the menu, we decide to comprehensively give The Ribcage a red hot go and order everything that’s available.

Service is super fucking amiable and our beef fat skinny french fries (HKD38) and Canadian AAA beef ribs (HKD298) appear first, served casually on aluminium baking trays.  The pile of shoestring fries are fucking great and The Ribcage haven’t been tight asses with their portions either.  There is nothing worse than ordering fries before realising you’re gonna need at least four serves to fill the potato shaped hole in your fatty boombah heart.  The Ribcage fries are sprinkled with paprika, crispy and hot which makes for fuck yeah spud times which we rapidly shove into our faces.  But like FOR REAL, how fucking hard is it to cook pre-bought frozen french fries?  Well, maybe it’s harder than I give it credit for because I’ve certainly had my share of sad, flaccid fuck no fries in this fat fuck life time.

Getting involved with our first proper food item, the beef rib sure looks like the business – it’s been cut into boneless pieces and re-arranged along a massive rib bone which has been stripped clean.  It’s fuck yeahhhhhh beef feels as it’s all pink and juicy as fuck, a hint of smoke and a good char on the outside.  The allegedly home made BBQ sauce is a little bit lame and despite its claims of being home made, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid if you told me it was squeezed out of a bottle somewhere.  Regardless, we’re slamming down some fuck yeah deep fried carbs and a well executed beef rib, so we start to think that despite its lack of booze and ice, The Ribcage might be able to pull this purveyor of fuck yeah ribs shit off in HK.

But it’s at this point that my rib related dreams take a battering when I try The Ribcage’s coleslaw (HKD28).  In general, I don’t exactly get a raging boner or even a semi-chub for coleslaw, because just how turned on can you get for shredded cabbage, carrot and some creamy dressing?  My reasoning is that if you’re gonna spend calories why would you spend it on mayo drenched cabbage when you could spend it on far superior fuck yeah noms like fried carbs or meat?!  The Ribcage does nothing to dissuade me of this belief because even by bullshit coleslaw standards, The Ribcage’s coleslaw is brimming with EXTRA bullshit.  The shredded cabbage and carrots are barely coated by the dressing, there’s no acidity from vinegar or lemon and just to add some next level coleslaw bullshit, it’s been decoratively topped with a thin slice of pear which is giving an extra “fuck you” by going brown around the edges.  All of this cabbagey mess tastes like dank ass and it’s obviously been carefully matured left to go stale and soggy as fuck by the “kitchen” for at least three days. It’s at this point, I start to ponder just how much raping and genocide I must have committed in a past lifetime to receive this karmic coleslaw related punishment.

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So it might seem insignificant as it’s just one side dish at a place that’s meant to be punching out killer ribs.  But I was so fucking upset by The Ribcage’s coleslaw because The Ribcage only has FIVE things on their menu which means this FUCK NO coleslaw atrocity is TWENTY FUCKING PERCENT OF THEIR MENU.  If you’re going to have such a limited menu there’s absolutely an expectation that you should be nailing the fuck out of every single item. It’s even more insulting because it’s not even fucking hard to make coleslaw – The Ribcage would have been better off to have kept their shredded cabbage fresh, squeeze in some kewpie mayonnaise and add some lemon juice, before using salt and pepper to season the fucker.  Instead it’s absolutely clear that they DO NOT give a fuck about this dish and I can’t imagine that whoever is in charge could have ever tried that coleslaw and gone “WINNER WINNER CABBAGE DINNER, this is absolutely good to go in my restaurant”.  I know that working in a kitchen is hard fucking work and shit happens, shit goes wrong and sometimes a kitchen just has a shocker of a night.  But this isn’t complicated shit, it’s a tub of pre-made coleslaw that has been made before service and all that’s involved is dishing it out as people order it.  The fact that it’s so seriously fucked up is just beyond the fucking pale and all I can do is imagine shit going down in The Ribcage’s kitchen like this:

Ribcage Kitchen Homie #1:  Fuuuuuck, I’m not sure about this massive tub of coleslaw.  I think it’s a soggy ass mess and the dressing is bullshit.

Ribcage Kitchen Homie #2:  Yeah, anything else you wanna comment on you opinionated know-it-all asshole?

Ribcage Kitchen Homie #1: I think we made it a couple of days ago too, like maybe we should make a fresh batch?

Ribcage Kitchen Homie #2: Fuck me Mr Opinion Get that Freshness into my Goddamn Face, just slice up a nashi pear and make it all fancy and shit then.

Ribcage Kitchen Homie #1: I’m really not sure if that’s gonna fix it though…

Ribcage Kitchen Homie #2: *waves arms and sends coleslaw out of the kitchen*

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From the glory of the fuck yeah beef ribs, we eat our half serve of USA pork baby back ribs (HKD148) which are absolutely, right down the middle of the line, fine.  I would describe them as completely inoffensive, not really falling off the bone and very passably edible.  In a moment of existential elegance, I eat them simply because they’re there.  It’s hardly a glowing recommendation when the only thing you can think is “I am so fucking glad that this is only a half serve of ribs because there is nothing about this dish here that is exciting enough to make me want to eat more”.  It’s sad times though because after the beef ribs, I was expecting some fuck yeah feelings from the pork ribs.

We conclude our sweep of The Ribcage’s entire menu with the Australian lamb ribs (HKD178).   The lamb ribs are absolutely the fucking worst of all the ribs, bringing to a close our maddening and rapid descent into solid fuck no territory while raising so many bewildering questions.  Why is the lamb dressed in the same sweet barbecue sauce? Why is there so much fucking rosemary which doesn’t go at all with the barbecue sauce?  Why is shit so gristly and fatty?  Most importantly, DEAR RIBCAGE, Y U CLAIM U SMOKE UR SHIT FOR FOUR HOURS BLAH BLAH SPECIAL FUCKING SMOKER BLAH BLAH APPLE HICKORY BLAH WOOD BLAH BLAH AND THEN GIVE ME SUCH CHEWY NON-TENDER LAMB RIBS??

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We finish our food and our friendly waitstaff, efficiently clear our trays and broken dreams away.  However their fuck yeah service and efforts can’t solve all our problems and it’s with a belly full of disappointment and lies, we glumly slip into the streets of Kennedy Town in search of a second dinner to bang bang the pain away.

Verdict:
Fuck noooooooooo because it’s simple fucking maths – only five items on the menu and sixty percent of it is mediocre to flat out bullshit.  Most importantly, no one deserves that thoughtless, fucked up coleslaw in their life.  NO ONE.

Where:
Electric Ave (FB Page)
Tai Yik House, LG/F, 27-29 First Street
Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong

Phone: 
+852 2858 8883

Price:
Burgers before the extras are HKD120-HKD130.

The deal:
Electric Ave is a small, burger joint which opened up a few months ago in Sai Ying Pun.  I’ve been chatting to the owner Andy for a while on my FY Noms Facebook account (add me yo, like my page – all that good social media shit!!) and we’ve been shooting the breeze about the trials and tribulations of setting up his new shop.  Shiiiiit, I honestly don’t know how any of you restaurant fuckers do it in this brutal HK market.  The one thing I always think about when I’m eating out, particularly when it’s an independent joint without the backing of some mega-dining group, is just how many plates of X does a restaurant need to churn out every day just to make rent in this crazy, expensive city?  Answer – a metric fuck tonne, and that’s even before you figure out all the other tedious shit like staffing, sourcing ingredients, overheads and then just making sure that fickle, asshole HK punters aren’t already moving onto the next, trendy bullshit. Like for real, this is how I imagine life to be as a HK landlord:

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Sauce

I’ve been hearing good things about Electric Ave so I scheduled in a fatboy feed and waddled my fat ass down the stairs to find it tucked down an alley off First Street.  It’s cute as shit, with a white, black, red and yellow London inspired cartoon style mural painted by HK street artist Bao Ho down its green walls.  It probably doesn’t seat any more than 15 people and on a Saturday lunch session, almost every seat is taken.  From the chalkboard above the kitchen, we order the Classic Aussie Beef Burger (HKD120, +HKD15 for cheddar or stilton cheese, +HKD10 for skinny rosemary fries) and as the listed chicken burger is not available, we get the Smokey Carbonara Chicken Burger (HKD110).  For +HKD30, you can upgrade your fries to five hour hand cut chips with bone marrow and there’s no way my greedy guts can say no to that fuck yeah sounding proposition.

Our chunky chips are first out and HOLY FUCKING SHIT, this is the sort of carb related experience that will give you wet dreams in the nights to come.  Perfectly golden and crispy on the outside, fluffy as fuck on the inside and then there’s this depth and slight beefy flavour to them from the bone marrow which Electric Ave have rendered down themselves to finish off their chips.  I chatted to Andy (anonymously, he didn’t know that I was FYN because fuuuuck, what an outright wanker that would make me) about what goes into making a five hour chip and he outlined a number of steps from peeling potatoes and cutting them by hand, soaking the chips in pH 9 water with sugar and salt to get the starch out, drying the moisture off with a fan, putting the chips into the freezer until they’re almost frozen and finally, frying the chips so they can take their final glorious fuck yeah form.  Once they’re fried, they’re topped with rendered bone marrow which he’s cleaned all the blood off, served with a side of homemade ketchup with all sorts of fancy shiz going on like tomatoes, onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, cider vinegar, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, tamari, oyster sauce, fish sauce, anchovies, dark sugar and cloves.  Fuuuuck, five hours to make and then mere minutes to be destroyed but as I always say, carb life is the best life and Electric Ave’s bone marrow chips may be the closest to a carb filled FLAWLESS VICTORY that I’ve experienced all year.

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The only thing that stops me from inhaling every single chip is the arrival of my Classic Aussie Beef Burger.  It’s not one of those over the top gut buster size burgers but it’s also not a piddly little burger the size of a small child’s fist (HAY Burger Circus, you know what I mean). I gotta say, my expectations for burgers in HK start at a very low place but Electric Ave’s beef burger is obviously well thought out with every component bringing something to the fatty boombah table.  The patty is cooked medium rare (they didn’t ask how I wanted my burger, so if you don’t jive with this either learn to eat your burgers properly or make sure you tell them what temperature you want) and is made from prime grade Super Black Angus Australian cattle from New South Wales, a blend of chuck and brisket with a good amount of fat, seasoned with dried mushrooms, salt and pepper.  It’s a very good patty, with the fat giving it a lot of flavour and juiciness but personal preference, I would have liked my patty to have a bit more of a char on it and a touch more salt.  I can concede that I can swing more salty than some people, so once I season it to taste, I’m super into what’s happening patty wise.  

Aside from the fuck yeah patty times, there’s all sorts of fuck yeah things going on such as their custom burger sauce which is a punchy combination of their homemade ketchup blended with kewpie mayonnaise, Sriracha, garlic, cloves and sherry vinegar.  There’s no sad ass wilted iceberg lettuce either, with Electric Ave using halved baby gem lettuces.  Importantly, the pickle game is also strong, Electric Ave keeping shit real with home brined pickles that have overtones of coriander seed, dill weed and fennel.  Electric Ave also has some serious confit onion game going on, with a fuck yeah level of caramelisation going down, with just enough sweetness from the red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and dark sugar.  Just to keep the burger components coming, it’s all brought together with some tomato jam which they’ve made from stewing tomatoes and peppers with fish sauce, ginger, vinegar, sugar and chill.  Electric Ave claims that there’s over 100 ingredients in every burger combo and fuck, I’m exhausted just thinking about everything I ate in that one burger but fuck yeahhhhh, I know that it definitely passed my burger test of when you take a bite of it and not only do you get a bit of everything that’s going on in there, it’s well balanced with lots of different layers of flavour and construction wise, holds its shit together.

I’m always sceptical about ordering chicken burgers, relegating them to the Poor Ordering Decisions Playbook, which is famous for containing bullshit plays like ordering the fish when you’re in a steak restaurant.  My homie ordered the Smoky Carbonara Burger which uses shredded chicken covered with a fucking delicious carbonara sauce made from chunks of smoked pancetta, cream, taleggio and a shit tonne of pepper.  This burger is gonna be your worst nightmare if you have qualms about eating mother / child, chicken and egg combos, because the chicken sits on a bed of arugula and a fried egg is used to top it all off and when you bite into it, the egg yolk explodes to combine itself with the carbonara sauced chicken.  Fuck the moral quandaries though because this chicken burger shiz is REAL LOVE and all of my doubts regarding chicken burgers always being the poor, ugly cousin to the beef burger are eviscerated, because I think this was even better than the beef burger.  It was downright primal, eating this messy fucker over whatever bone marrow chips remained so the broken yolk and carbonara sauce could drip all over those fuck yeah chips to become somehow, impossibly, even fucking better.

It’s at this point that I try to slow down the speed of my food inhalation because I’m hit by the terrifying realisation that like the dying days of summer, I’m running out of burger and fuck yeah chips and I don’t want my chip related happiness to slip through my fingers so all that I’m left with is a sense of loss deep in the pit of my stomach.  Except shit is just tooooo fucking good and soon I’m bereft and have nothing more to hold onto, except my desperate attempts to recall the memories of these sexy carb filled times, as my hands instead clutch remorsefully at a pile of grease smeared tissues.

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So if you’re after one of the best fuck yeah burgers I’ve had in HK which is stuffed full of thought in every component, get yo ass down to Electric Ave and get involved homies. Chef/owner Andy is also super fucking friendly and works the floor when he’s not bustin’ ass in the tiny kitchen to ask how things are and to go into the infinitesimal details of how he makes his burgers.  I won’t lie to you, it’s not a cheap burger but you’re paying for the quality ingredients and the vast amount of time involved to bring this righteous fuck yeah burger time together.  And really, what’s the point of slaving away in the money mines of HK if you can’t at least spend some of that hard earned slave wages on avoiding the fuck no plight of staring down some sad-ass excuse of a burger (probably with a fucking brioche bun) which makes you want to weep for your mother or anyone who can hold you close? Yassss, spend money bitch on shit that matters.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhhhhh and most importantly, don’t forget to pay the extra cash to upgrade to the five hour hand cut chips because for real, that shit is gonna make you into a better carb-filled person.

 

Where:
Samsen (FB Page)
68 Stone Nullah Lane
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

FYN Hot Tip:  It’s pretty much opposite Stone Nullah Tavern and next to the 7-11.

Phone:
+852 2234 0001 (I suspect they probably don’t do bookings because they’re pretty tiny and they’re already rammed, so why would they want to take bookings from you HK flakey assholes??)

Price:
We went as a party of two and got out at HKD300 a person.  If you went with more people, it’d probably be less than that though (maybe HKD200 – 250?).

The deal:
Adam Cliff, formerly of Chachawan fame, has set up a small Thai joint in Wan Chai.  I have always fucking loved the food at Chachawan but I don’t actually go all that often because I’m a grumpy fat fuck who hates waiting so the whole no booking palaver and then being jammed into a tiny, noisy as fuck space doesn’t jive with my corpulent existence.  Ms This is Bullshit and I are dead set keen for fucking delicious Thai food all of the time so we tumble into Samsen on a Friday night, which has only been open for five days. It’s a cool spot which doesn’t seat all that many people, with an open kitchen which allows you to see the chefs hauling some serious ass.  The interior is cute as fuck, all stripped down concrete with Thai-style cabinets holding Thai themed curios as potted devil’s ivy plants trail downwards in the space above the dining area.  Samsen is already pretty packed despite having no social media blitz or publicity, but we manage not having to wait for a table and sit down to examine Samsen’s straight forward menu which is split into five categories – wok fried dishes, sides, soup noodles, drinks and sweets.

As it’s FRI-FUCKING-YAY, we’re all about getting some hard liquor into our lives ASAP and unfortunately there’s only beer under their alcohol section.  We ask our extremely sweet though ultimately not very helpful waitress if there’s any non-beer alcohol options and she kindly points us to the fruit juice section.  I ask again, perhaps thinking she didn’t understand me and she directs me to the non-alocholic fizzy section.  Not willing to take the health hint, I look at her, eyes wild and tongue parched, frazzled jobitis desperation seeping from every pore as I ask whether they can give me some rum or vodka to put in some juice and she offers me a young coconut instead.  FUUUUUCK, I don’t need electrolytes or your judgment Samsen, I just need hard liquor to take the pain away of my everyday working for the goddamn man existence.

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I ask another waiter just to make sure and he politely apologises because they’ve only been open for five days and I accept my boozeless fate as I glumly sip down on a healthful calamansi lime soda as we make some choices for dinner.  Our waitress appears again with a stack of notes to indicate off-menu items and to also cross off half the soup noodles which aren’t available.  She’s extremely endearing but her ability to explain the dishes is not amazing, but it doesn’t matter because she’s smiling like it’s going out of fashion and considering the normally very sullen landscape of HK waitresses, I’ll take any shred of enthusiasm and beatific smiles that someone will hand out to me.

The dishes fly out of the kitchen at break neck speed with all three of our dishes arriving within seconds of each other.  We start with the fried marinated pork collar with tomato and chilli dip (HKD68).  Crispy as fuck pieces of pork are fried with garlic and whole kaffir lime leaves and the tomato and chilli dip is spicy, piquant and with just enough sweet to make it pop.  I could have shovelled this into my face like some sort of porky, low carb savoury popcorn treat all day.

We also predictably ordered the Pad Thai with prawn (HKD118) because as I outlined in my Mak Mak review, I use the phrase “Shoulda had the pad thai” to explain that feeling when you try to lead a new and adventurous life and do something different to mix your boring, shit up and then all you’re left with is the fuck no sinking feeling of disappointment and wistful dreams of fuck yeah, reliable favourites.  Why would I take any chances at Samsen and be all too bad so sad, shoulda had the pad thai while  staring down a plate of pad siew or some omelette when I’m all about that sweet, sweet pad thai option? Thank fuck for being predictable because Samsen’s pad thai is fucking MAJOR.  It looks fucking awesome, shreds of fresh green papaya, white de-tailed beansprouts, fresh spring onions and crushed peanuts all piled onto the flat rice noodles.  The prawns are a very decent size, plump and juicy as fuck and there’s a bang on balance between sweet and sour, more flavour from the dried shrimps, fried cubes of tofu for texture and a good amount of wok hei / char in the noodle.  There’s some green leaf on the side which I’m not sure what it is and I can’t get any explanation from the waitstaff but it doesn’t matter because fuck yeah pad thai is life and who cares about learning shit about vegetables when you’ve got carbs and you’re alive??

But as Rihanna sings in my favourite summer jam of 2016, BABY THIS IS WHAT I CAME FOR – the Wagyu beef boat noodle (HKD128).  Ms Siuwaan had sent me photos a week ago and I was all “This needs to be in my face naooooo”.  Beef boat noodles (kua tiao ruea) originates from being sold from boats on the canals of Bangkok and it’s rice noodles in a strong flavoured soup, with many accompaniments.  The soup gets it colour and viscosity from using cow or pigs blood and is seasoned with dark soy sauce.  Samsen’s boat noodle is just on fire with so much flavour that I’m getting emotional writing about it right the fuck now.  The fairly thick soup stock is already bold from the beef stock, blood and soy sauce but then it’s also spiced with all sorts of good shit – I’m just an asshole food blogger with no actual knowledge as to what’s going on in Samsen’s fuck yeah broth but I’m guessing there was potentially lemongrass, pepper, coriander, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and galangal (maybe??) getting all up in the soup stock club.  Either way, it’s deep soup love and you then combine that with the thin rice noodles, the fuck yeah spiced chunks of tender Wagyu beef, beef balls, fried pork rinds and the large stems of Thai watercress / morning glory / kang kong and it’s mighty fuck yeah noms emotional times for me.  YASSSS, LIGHTNING DOES STRIKE EVERY TIME YOU MOVE.

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We didn’t pile in too heavy on the mains because Ms This is Bullshit and I know that there’s three Thai desserts that we wanna slam down.  There’s a special item on, the tab tim krob (HKD52), which was explained pretty poorly to us as “red rubies” and that was about it, but we get it anyway.  It’s fucking delicious and refreshing as fuck – a cool slightly sweet coconut milk soup, with some pandan overtones, over crushed ice with pomegranate and these slightly gelatinous red dumpling-esque items floating about.  I try to grill the wait staff on what the red dumpling things are and one of them tells me it’s a “red ruby” from Israel and they think it’s a fruit.  Through some FYN investigation I can tell you there’s some crossed wires going on with their waiters.  I think what the waiter meant to tell me is that the pomegranate seeds are from pomegranates that Samsen have sourced from Israel and the red dumpling things chilling out in the soup are the “tab tim krob”, which translates to crunchy rubies or pomegranates and are actually small pieces of red dyed water chestnut covered in tapioca flour, to give it that gelatinous bite.  Technicalities aside, it’s super appealing, icy fuck yeah times and perfect for hot as hell HK summer times.

Ms This is Bullshit is all about the young coconut ice-cream (HKD58), which is two scoops of coconut ice-cream topped with toasted peanuts, shaved coconut meat and sweet corn, all served in a coconut shell.  We round off our triple dessert efforts with Thai mango and sticky rice (HKD52) which is always one of my fuck yeah Thai faves despite its simplicity.  Yasssss, get that condensed milk, sweet mango and sticky, glutinous rice into my life and then make sure you drink any sort of liquid to ensure that it swells up in my stomach and has me rolling around all night feeling like I’m gonna burst from good times and replete happiness.

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With that we roll ourselves out of Samsen, straight into Stone Nullah Tavern for whiskey and reflect upon how much we fucking loved Samsen and just how rad the food was.   Sure, the service is slightly clueless and a bit all over the place, but our waitress was so well intentioned and smiley that I can’t even be mad.  But ultimately, there’s a fuck tonne of love and care being poured into what they’re doing and in this city littered with privileged bankrolled no-thought bullshit ‘concepts’ opening all the time, you just need someone to give a fuck about what they do at an affordable price point to make you feel that it’s all gonna be ok.  Even if you can’t get hard liquor to wash it all down with.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhhhhhhhh! It’s probably gonna be a total shit show to get a seat but fuuuuck, I need to get my fuck yeah boat noodles on again ASAP.

Where:
Why50
Shop E, G/F, Fu Fai Commercial Centre
27 Hillier St, Sheung Wan
Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 5239 8013 (but when I tried to call this number to pre-order shit, no one picked up)

Price:
HKD86 for a Cubano sandwich.  About HKD40 for coffee?  DON’T QUOTE ME ON COFFEE PRICES.

The deal:
Ms Two Serves got a sweet taste for Why50’s Cubano sandwich a few weeks ago and I was on the receiving end of a flurry of excited text messages.  But just like a raver desperately trying to catch that sweet high of her first pinger, her subsequent visits to Why50 were still all good Cubano times but plagued by execution issues.  Like when she called 20 minutes ahead to put her order in because Why50 apparently take fucking forever to make a sandwich and when she arrived she was still told that it’d be another 30 minutes while a girl behind the counter lovingly and delicately cut up a banana for 15 minutes which was eventually going to be pulverised through a blender.

So despite the warning shots of impending ineptitude flying past my head, I teed up Ms Two Serves to meet me at Why50 so I could try this Mr Cubano sandwich because fuck, I just want to believe that my big fuck yeah sandwich dreams can come true in HK:

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Based on the shitshow we were anticipating, I tried to call ahead to pre-order two Cubanos but one number I found online didn’t work and the other rang out.  I messaged Ms Two Serves and said that I couldn’t pre-order and she immediately exclaims “HELLZ NAWWW, ain’t nobody got time to wait for them to make sandwiches” and stomps down there ahead of time, putting in our order as the ONLY customer in the shop.  When I arrive at Why50, I realise that we’ve got another homie on the way so I try to order another Cubano.  That’s when I’m met by a blank stare by a waitress that we like to call Silverlox and she says “No Cubanos….We are sold out”.  I take a moment to pause and with an incredulous look at the empty cafe which hasn’t even really hit lunch time yet, I ask Silverlox “Really?  How??”  and she says they’ve run out of bread.  Why50, this ain’t good news for your lunch trade if our order for TWO Cubanos at 12:15pm has completely cleaned out Why50 ‘s lunch supply of bread.

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I look at Silverlox, wild eyed and desperate, while gesturing at their menu and asking “What else can I order instead?”, seeing that of the eight menu items, no less than THREE contain my darkest nemesis, brioche.  Sensing my weakness she looks at me glassily, saying that they have plenty of brioche left.  Ms Two Serves had already ordered the Brioche French Toast before I got there.  But ugh, I give this scenario a fuck noooooooo, seeing as I’m not a 4 year old French child who wants something to dunk into my cocoa and especially because my greatest contribution to the internet to date has really been the below:

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Denied our third Cubano, Ms Two Serves and I watch the Why50 Cubano machine slowly sputter into life, with its three-man kitchen staff indolently making our sandwiches.  25 minutes after our order, they appear and despite what I consider to be a fucking outrageous time to wait for a sandwich when there is NO ONE ahead of you in the queue, it looks fucking glorious.  Slices of ham, roasted pork, melted Swiss cheese pickles and mustard on two fuck yeah pieces of toasted Bread Elements bread which was all working together for fuck yeah sandwich times. There’s also a side of tomato and mango salsa on the side which is a nice touch and the sweet and sour thing it’s got going on, pairs well with the ham, cheese and mustard. It’s hefty and a big feed for one person and perhaps there is still reason to dream that good sandwiches are possible in HK.  Even if in typical HK service terms, it’s such a fucking drama to actually obtain one.

At this point, Ms Two Serves’ French Brioche Toast is 40+ minutes post order and still not in existence.  She chases it up with the kitchen to see if they’ve forgotten and Silverlox confidently reassures us that no, they haven’t forgotten about her order, it’s still in process.  LIKE WHY50, WHY ALMOST 50 MINUTES FOR BASIC TOAST BASED FOOD?  JUST LET ME CHECK MY WATCH TO SEE HOW LONG THIS IS TAKING:

casiofuck

When the Brioche French Toast finally arrives it’s so fucking sad, even once I account for my burning hatred for fucking brioche.  It’s barely been battered by egg, so it’s effectively just toasted dried out brioche, with creme fraiche dumped on top with a few strawberries scattered around.  For HKD80 and almost 50 minutes of our precious time.  Ms Two Serves pushes it around her plate, lamenting her sorry excuse for French toast, swearing that she’s gonna make her own tomorrow for breakfast.  Which she did and texted me about, proudly declaring that it took her less than 15 minutes to make French toast that was properly battered.

I always think about HK restaurants who complain about their blood thirsty landlords who make profits a near impossible, due to their rent.  But then I think about HK restaurants who are leaving so much money on the goddamn table because they do stupid shit like not keeping me awash in liquor or turning shit around at a pace faster than a snail’s crawl.  Why50, I know you’re meant to be named after the fact that there’s 50 beans in every cup of coffee but fuuuuuck, that Sheung Wan rent can’t be cheap so Y U no have enough bread to make more than two Cubanos at lunch and more importantly, WHY ALMOST 50 MINUTES FOR BASIC BREAD BASED FOODS??

Verdict:
Fuck no because I just cannot with waiting 30+ minutes for a sandwich when you have less than five people ordering food.  Despite the fact that their Cubano sandwiches are a big fuck yeah which I would most definitely like to eat again.

Where:
Morty’s Delicatessen
Shop 2-14 Lower Ground Floor, Jardine House 1
Jardine House, 1 Connaught Place
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 3665 0900.  You can also order your sandwich shizz online – fuck yeahhhh, welcome to the future HK. BUT  WHO WILL WE FAX NOW?!

Price:
HKD148 for the large Reuben sandwich meal.  +10% service charge if you eat it in the restaurant.

The deal:
Hong Kong is the business for so many fucking things, but there is some shit that it is just NO GOOD at.  Such as how to use an umbrella in a crowd, websites, walking in a straight line and bearable humidity levels during the months of July and August.  In this category of HK fails, I’d also add sandwiches.  I don’t know why it’s so fucking hard to get a decent sandwich in HK but I’d heard some good shit about Morty’s, a New York style delicatessen, which has just opened in the lower ground floor of Jardine House.  Sandwich related hope in HK is indeed a bold proposition and seizing upon this tiny sliver of carb related hope, I rounded up two of my best American homies, Ms Two Serves and Ms Siuwaan, so we could get our fill of carbs and stacks of pastrami.

morganfreemanhope

Morty’s is doing some brisk trade and we pulled a time-tested HK move and got there right at 12pm to secure a table.  The menu offers a number of different sandwiches, smoked meat and specialty sandwiches, including all the big bangin’ classics you’d expect such as the Reuben, Classic Pastrami, Club Sandwich and the Grilled Cheese.  I went for the Reuben because if I was gonna judge whether Morty’s had its NY sandwich game on, I didn’t want it to be on some bullshit new age smoked truffle chicken sandwich with grilled shiitake mushrooms, arugula and truffle mayo.

The Morty’s claim is that its pastrami is “cured between 5 & 21 days, rubbed with a top secret spice blend & then slowly smoked with techniques passed on by Morty’s great-grandfather”. The menu also declares proudly in caps that “ALL SANDWICHES INCLUDE HALF PICKLE & FRIES OR HOUSE SALAD”.  I predictably went for fries because fuck me, I ain’t interested in that house salad bullshit.  I did watch half a dozen or so paunchy office workers sigh and choose the limp, uninspiring salad to earn the privilege of being able to report to their over priced personal trainer that they did indeed forego potential spud related happiness for the “right choices”, in a forlorn attempt to stave off their fat fuck destiny that’s written in their desk bound existence in the money mills.

shut up about your diet

When our sandwiches arrive, they look fucking great.  Three layers of bread and a fuck yeah looking slab of pastrami in there, with a pile of fries on the side.  However, once we catch sight of the pickle on the side, our entire table has a flashback to the ALL CAPS menu claim of “HALF PICKLE” and we stare down what looks more like a quarter of a tiny ass pickle.  Ms Siuwaaan is even less impressed, declaring it to be a mere eighth of a pickle.  To add insult to injury, Morty’s not-really-a-half pickle is also entirely lack lustre, a soggy-ass mess with not enough piquancy or brine to make it fucking pop.  For me, I imagined that this is what it feels like when a pickle gives up on life.  One of my lunch comrades went past the existential pickle problems I was imagining and went straight to much saltier territory, declaring that it felt like a flaccid dick in her mouth. Either way you take it, fuck no to limp, impotent pickles.

van-damme-snake

I pile into my sandwich and the menu had described it as “Slow Smoked Pastrami, Swiss Cheese, Thousand Island Dressing & Sauerkraut on House Rye”.  First off, Morty’s pastrami is fucking great.  I got the medium fatty brisket and the spicing and cure on the pastrami is fucking delicious.  Look, I’m sure there’s better pastrami available in the USA but as far as HK goes, Morty’s pastrami is legit.  However, Ms Siuwaaan and Ms Two Serves were less impressed, as they had ordered fatty brisket which looked remarkably like medium to lean brisket.  But this is the thing, a sandwich has to be the sum of all its parts and as I plowed through my gut-buster of a large Reuben Sandwich more and more flaws became apparent.  I started off pretty fucking excited about my sandwich but with each bite, I became less enamoured with what was going down.  Why was the Swiss cheese not melted enough?  Why was the only indication that there was even Thousand Island Dressing on my sandwich was the fact that I could see some pink sauce in there but couldn’t taste a fucking thing?  How come the sauerkraut was much the same, physically there but from a taste perspective it was bland as fuck, with none of the sour, fermented kick you would expect from sauerkraut?  The house rye bread was adequately fine but if you’d switched it out for country white bread, I’m not sure I could have tasted the difference as it didn’t have any of that dense, chewy and deeper flavour that I’d hope to get from a rye bread.  The fries that came with my sandwich were also completely unremarkable, so much so that I even left fries behind.  And trust me, deep fried potatoes with salt should be an easy fuck yeah slam dunk which generally sees me shovelling them into my face until they’re all gone.  All I can think about is that this is a sandwich that has been created to look the part, but no one has thought about it critically as a whole.

So the three of us sit there, our souls weary and Ms Siuwaan looks at us with heavy eyes and heart, stating simply “I don’t even know why I get excited about anything new in HK anymore, because it always ends in disappointment”.  So we sit there in silence with our cold fries and untouched sad-ass looking salads and allow yet another HK sandwich related tidal wave of ennui soak us to our jaded, worn out bones, as the shards of any sort of HK carb related glory lay shattered around our feet.

Verdict:
Fuck no.  Cause as I texted someone later that day – “Sad pickle.  Sad sandwich.  Sad carbs = sad fucking times”.

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